By Philip Yatai
Kachia (Kaduna State) – Nutrition stakeholders in Kaduna State are targeting to achieve 65 per cent exclusive breastfeeding among lactating mothers by 2020, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
The target, which was set by the stakeholders after a five-day meeting in Kachia, noted that the current exclusive breastfeeding practice which stands at 19.7 per cent, must be scaled up.
The experts, who produced a Draft Strategy to cover 2016-2020 for the attainment of exclusive breastfeeding and adequate feeding habits to tackle malnutrition, noted that the current low statistics must be reversed.
In this respect, the stakeholders are also targeting to raise early initiations of breastfeeding within an hour of birth to 80 percent as against the current figure of 28.9 per cent by 2020.
They also set to achieve 70 per cent minimal acceptable diet and minimum dietary diversity of 61.3 per cent for children from six to 23 months of birth.
NAN reports that the stakeholders meeting was organised by the National Orientation Agency and UNICEF to domesticate the National Social and Behavioural Change Communication Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding.
Malam Lawal Haruna, an official of NOA, expressed optimism that the targets were achievable.
Haruna said that the strategy prioritised community engagement, individual counselling sessions with mothers, support groups meetings, and home visits by community volunteers.
He added the strategy would also promote nutrition talks at health facilities and during recurrent campaigns.
“To ensure ownership of the agenda, high level stake holders’ dialogue, community communication action plan and baby friendly community competition were introduced.
“This would help reach out to parents, caregivers, traditional and religious leaders and communities to fully embrace infant and young children feeding (IYCF) practices to ensure healthy living among infant and children under five years.
“The strategy also mainstreams IYCF in programmes in mass media, and promotes the production and use of local and culturally sensitive IYCF communication materials,” he said.
He said that the state Committee on Food and Nutrition would implement the strategy document.
A nutrition officer in the state, Hajiya Hauwa Usman had earlier said that IYCF community programme was ongoing in eight local government areas of the state, and would be scaled up to five additional LGAs by December.
On Community Management of Acute Malnutrition, Usman said that the state began with five sites in Zaria local government area with support from UNICEF in March 2016.
“We later scaled up to five sites in Makarfi local government area, set up another site in Igabi; we are now in Kaduna North and would soon move to Kaduna South local government area.
“We equally have severe acute malnutrition treatment centres in about 11 tertiary and secondary health facilities across the state, “she said.
Usman explained that the programme involves early detection of severe acute malnutrition in communities and the provision of treatment using ready to use therapeutic food and other nutrients.